The Child in Transition: 5 1/2 to 6
Around the age of 5 ½, children begin to undergo a transition from the Absorbent Mind of the First Plane of Development (ages 0-6) to the sense of justice that is predominant in the Second Plane of Development (ages 6-12). The child reveals himself by changes in the types of questions he asks, the discussions he is interested in, and a deeper interest in friendships. He typically shows great confidence in the physical and academic strengths.
The child now asks questions and expresses ideas about fairness. Fully comprehending the difference between fantasy and reality, he now wants to compare events with his ideas of right and wrong. This can be expressed indirectly, such as when a child at school may say to a teacher, “She’s holding a stick.” The adult may at first interpret this as “tattletaling,” but the student is really asking, “Is that okay? Can I do it too?” With ideas about justice still under formation, the child may also indicate that it’s not fair for an older sibling to go to bed at night later than he does. But his ideas may extend beyond his immediate surroundings. He may express concerns for animals, “It’s not fair that zoo animals have to live in cages” or an awareness of national/international events, “Some people don’t have enough food to eat.” If not previously done, this is an excellent time to introduce service learning, or community service. Children also feel proud to participate in family chores.
Questions may relate to big picture ideas. The child is very interested in the universe, people in other parts of the world, and things not seen by the naked eye. She now has the ability to imagine something as large as a galaxy and as small as bacteria. She loves stories about science and nature, and may have a strong interest in things that are fantasy, such as Star Wars characters or video games such as Minecraft. She can read, but loves to be read to.
Five year olds are very social and may want to spend more time with friends after school and on weekends. They often enjoy group sports activities such as soccer or swim team. This is an excellent time for children to participate in team sports and clubs. They are happy for casual meet-ups at a park to toss a ball around or go on simple hikes. Overnights with neighboring friends can be a lot of fun too. Soon the child will turn 6, when things change even more.